Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions
Born in 1804 in the province of Santander in Spain, Emmanuel joined the Franciscans with the hope of becoming a missionary. Ordained in 1831, following his request, he was sent to the Holy Land. There he had two terms of service. During the second, he was appointed guardian of Damascus in 1858 with a community of eight friars, six of whom were priests. A quarrel between a Maronite and a Druse in 1860 sparked atrocious rioting in which the Druses pillaged towns and massacred some 3,000 people, among them the Franciscan community at Damascus. The other Franciscan martyrs were priests – Carmel Volta (aged 57), Engelbert Kolland (33), Nicanor Ascanio (46), Peter Soler (33), Nicholas Alberga (30) – and lay friars, Francis Pinazzo (58) and John James Fernandez (58). All were Spanish except Engelbert who was from the diocese of Salzburg in Austria. They were all beatified with three Maronite laymen by Pius XI in 1926, the seventh centenary year of the death of St Francis.